ZingMagic games!
Home! Smartphones Show S60 smartphones the GRID Free software Tips Beginners book Articles Web guide Psion Q and A 3-Lib library Conversions

Help keep 3-Lib going with PayPal


Symbian Q&A Knowledge base - Psion
(Series 3, Series 5/5mx, netBook, Series 7, Revo, Revo Plus, Ericsson MC218)

All Copyright Steve Litchfield, 2000-2006

I’ve just upgraded from a Psion Series 5 to a Series 5mx. Most things work OK, but Word is proving a problem, with ‘Create new file…’ not working. The template system also doesn’t seem to be working. Is this a known problem?

Tell us, did you by any chance simply restore all your backup files from the Series 5 to the new 5mx? We’ve seen strange application behaviour in these circumstances, usually because Series 5-specific .INI files aren’t handled properly on the newer palmtop, running a different version of the EPOC operating system. Much better to copy over just your document folders manually. The contents of the 5mx’s ‘\System’ folder are best left alone, with Word and other applications creating .INI files as necessary. Backup your 5mx, hard reset it (see the manual for how to do this) and then use Windows Explorer to manually copy back everything but \System. If you had third party applications loaded on the internal disk, you’ll need to re-install these.

I'm lusting after a new Nokia 9500 but seem to be stuck back in the Psion age. My contacts are spread across a dozen Psion Series 3mx Data files ('Business', 'Travel', etc.) and I also have an Agenda going back to 1997. I've tried several times to get my data out of my Psion and onto a newer device in a sensible fashion, but have given up each time. Will I have more success with the 9500?

In a very real sense, you (and many others) have become a victim of the Psion's success. Because of its tremendous standalone flexibility, users like yourself had databases for just about everything. Modern devices like the 9500 work on a 'keep it simple, keep it synchronised' principle and you'll have to make some serious decisions about which of your databases are to make it into Contacts and which should be left as standalone files, perhaps in a third party database such as YData or PowerBase. Your biggest problem will be getting your databases into the right format for importing into YData or a PC PIM system. We strongly suggest that you perform a basic export of your data from Psion Data into a plain text file and then import this into Microsoft Excel (or OpenOffice Sheet). Once you can see your data laid out in front of you, you'll be able to sort out empty fields, embedded line feeds and all the other things which can cause database import routines to complain. Good luck, you'll need it, plus plenty of time and patience.

Agenda is slightly easier to handle if you can borrow someone's Series 5. Use PsiWin to convert the Series 3 Agenda file to EPOC format, copy it onto the Series 5 and then set up your PC sync settings to extend back to the required date. Sync the Psion Series 5 to Outlook on the PC and then use the Nokia 9500's PC Suite to sync with Outlook. Easy for us to write down here but again do allow plenty of time. If all else fails, print all Agenda entries prior to today as a 'General' text file and keep this on your 9500 for past reference. Manually enter your current appointments and any birthdays in the 9500's Calendar application.

My trusty netBook has started playing up, with the touch-screen often mis-registering my stylus taps. I’ve tried recalibrating, to no avail, over and over again. Does this sound like a repair job?

This is quite a common problem with Psion Series 7s and netBooks. Your screen cable is loose and (in the worst case) may need replacing. One quick fix is to press firmly on the ‘netBook’ (or ‘Series 7’) logo, above the keyboard. This is often enough to reseat the cable and restore a solid connection for a while. If this doesn't work, you'll need to partially disassemble your machine to get to the screen cable. It's not too difficult but don’t try it if you don’t feel confident with this sort of thing and we’re not going to go into too much detail here. Essentially, you remove the logo label between the keyboard and display, then remove the only screw that you’ll see. Lift off the top and then extract the pins that hold the screen. When you get to the screen cable, a semi-permanent repair is to insert a wedge of cardboard between the cable and the base of the unit. Good luck!

I’m trying to synchronise my Psion 5mx to Outlook on my PC, in order to get four years of Agenda and Contacts information over to my new smartphone. However, nothing from Agenda appears to make it over to my PC, even though no error messages get shown.

Actually yes. Do your Agenda entries have little ‘x’ icons beside them, by any chance? We’ll take an educated guess that the ‘Synchronise with other calendars’ flag is unchecked on each entry; in other words, the PsiWin synchronisation module is explicitly told not to copy these entries over to your PC. If you’d caught this in time, you could have set a more sensible default in ‘Tools | Entry preferences | Day entry’, but as it is you’ll have to edit each entry that currently shows the ‘x’ icon. If this is too laborious a process, you might like to simply print off your whole Agenda to a ‘General’ text file, giving a searchable archive which you can view on PC or on the smartphone

I’m trying to get a Hitachi 4GB Compact Flash type II memory card working in my netBook, but this reported only 1K of space available! If this card is not compatible then what’s the biggest drive that will work in the netBook?

Your card will work, but the faint-hearted should look away now! If you don’t feel confident at very technical matters, ask a computer-savvy friend to assist. Your Compact Flash will probably be slightly over 4GB in size, and this is beyond the netBook's limit. You need to reduce its capacity by using ‘fdisk’, ‘diskpart’ or a similar partitioning utility (e.g. ‘Partition Magic’) on your PC. The threshold is actually 4096MB, so go for 4090MB, for example. Then format the disk on your Psion and restore your files. One down side of using such a huge disk is that its cluster size is going to be really large as well, so that even small files will be allocated lots of space.

I’ve acquired a Series 5mx ‘Pro’ from eBay, but it only seems to work in German. How can I change it to use English?

The 5mx ‘Pro’ was officially only ever developed for the German and Japanese markets, as far as we know, with 24MB of RAM and an operating system that had to be booted from a special disk image on a Compact Flash card (or on a connected serial computer). The idea was to see how practical it was to be able to update customer machines with new versions of the OS by simply sending them a card or having them download a file online. The good news is that there’s no reason why your palmtop couldn’t be booted with an English disk image instead. The bad news is that because a UK ‘Pro’ was never officially made, there’s no 'official' download site for such a file. A suitable disk image was available from http://gtm.tel.uva.es/xtep/en/download.htm

I’ve been using ‘BT Yahoo’ as my ISP, using my Psion Revo and Nokia phone to deal with email when out and about. But BT Yahoo has now decided that ‘SMTP authentication’ is now needed in order to send emails through their servers. This is no problem on my PC, but my Revo does not seem to have any options for SMTP authentication. What can I do?

SMTP authentication is just one ISP tool in the big fight against spammers, and you’re right, Psion’s 1999-vintage Email client doesn’t support it. You have three options. Firstly, there’s the freeware ‘SmtpAuth’, a Java application that sits in the background and helps out with the authentication when needed. The problem is that it’s tricky to set up and also uses a huge (2MB minimum) amount of memory, making it impractical on your 8MB Revo (though much more usable on the 5mx, of course).

Secondly, there’s XJMail, another freeware tool, thankfully far more resource-friendly. Unfortunately, the documentation is often in poor English and XJMail itself is very different from Psion’s Email client, but it might be worth a try. In addition to SMTP authentication, it has a wealth of other ‘advanced’ features that might be useful.

Finally, and perhaps most usefully as a quick, short-term fix, simply switch to another dial-up (‘pay as you go’) ISP. You’ll still be able to collect email from your old BT Yahoo POP3 mailbox, don’t worry, while using your new ISP’s SMTP server for outgoing emails. Note that, eventually, they’ll probably switch to SMTP authentication as well.

For connecting my old Psion Series 5mx to my new laptop, I have a USB to serial adaptor. This seems to be working properly but it installs itself as COM5 and PsiWin only recognises COM1 to COM4 as possible ‘Connections’ in its ‘Properties’ dialog. How do get the two to talk to each other?

Our guess is that you only plug the adaptor in once the laptop’s up and running, by which time PsiWin’s connection server has already started. Try rebooting the laptop with the USB to serial adaptor plugged in. In this way, COM5 will exist when the connection server starts and it should be offered as one of the choices in PsiWin’s Connections dialog. If it still doesn’t appear, you may need to reinstall PsiWin, still with the adaptor plugged in.
NEW: See my quick tutorial for sorting this out!

See also the great Psion and Symbian email digest and AllAboutSymbian's forums and Support section.